Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: February 2012 Page 1 of 2

Mid-Season TV Roundup

Once Upon a TimeThe TV season’s halfway over — okay, more than half. I’m a little behind on this — and that means it’s time to see which shows from my start-of-season roundup I’m still watching, which I’ve pulled the plug on, and which mid-season shows have made the lineup.

First, the breakups:

Survivor/The Amazing Race/America’s Next Top Model/The X-Factor

I never thought the day would come, but… reality competition shows just aren’t doing anything for me anymore. I know, right? I can’t believe it, either. But I just COULD NOT do another season with anybody from the Hantz family, or with Coach, or with “I used to be awesome but now I’m a whiny douche” Ozzy, for that matter, and I found myself paying less and less attention. And TAR, while not really irritating me the way Survivor did, just wasn’t holding my attention. The X-Factor also started to feel like a chore to sit through after the first few eliminations. The only reality show I watched all the way to the end of the season was ANTM, and then there was that hinky business with Angelea, and I just don’t have the energy for any more of Tyra’s shenanigans. I’m done.

Glee

I had already reached the point where I was just in it for the singing. I almost dumped it for good after that cracked-out Christmas episode, but then a preview of the Michael Jackson ep pulled me back in; but by the time the Valentine’s Day ep got here I wasn’t even enjoying the singing anymore, certainly not enough to endure Very Special Episode sermons about how my religion should feel about certain issues from Ryan Murphy. I couldn’t even get excited about finally seeing Rachel’s dads even though it was some of the best casting ever. I just didn’t care. Goodbye, Glee.

The New Girl

I only made it four episodes, none of which lived up to the hilarious pilot, before going back to my No Half-hour Comedies rule. Life is too short. Sorry, Zooey Deschanel. I still think you’re adorable.

Chuck 

I didn’t break up with Chuck, it broke up with all of us, and broke my heart a little in the process. I will always love you, Chuck.

 

The New Shows:

Once Upon a Time 

Technically not a midseason replacement, but it got a late enough start to not be included in my original round-up. Actually, I didn’t even know about it yet when I wrote my last TV post. But I’m glad I found out, because it’s my favorite new show by far. It’s a fairy-tale soap opera wrapped up in a Lost-style mystery, with a villain who is completely unapologetic and evil (with Jane Espenson’s involvement I suspect it’s no coincidence that the best TV Big Bad since Mayor Wilkins is… another Mayor! Shout-out!), and another villain who seems to possibly be poised for a redemption arc, and you know how I am about those. It’s not my favorite favorite show (yet), but it’s got all of the ingredients for getting there.

Sherlock

Matt and I actually watch this one together. The extremely short seasons are hella frustrating, but my word, is this show good. I always said that Doctor Who had a lot of Sherlock in him and now Sherlock’s got a lot of The Doctor in him. It’s smart, witty, sexy, and a pure fangirl delight. Do not miss this show.

Smash

This is filling the void in the Broadway geek part of my soul quite nicely. It has a great cast, the writing is good, and the musical numbers are making me want them to produce Marilyn the Musical in the real world. And I didn’t start watching AI until David Cook’s season, so I’m not a big fan of Kathryn McPhee (not to say that I don’t like her… I’m just not a big fan), so I keep rooting for Ivy.  Who is played by Megan Hilty who is an actual Broadway star and was a Galinda, so how could I not? She’s pretty awesome. You should look up her “Popular” performance on Youtube sometime. Also, Jack Davenport: Rawr.

The River

Paranormal Activity in the Amazon. The execution isn’t perfect, but it has its moments. Besides, it’s only 7 episodes long, so it’s not a huge commitment.

Alcatraz

This is a solid show. I’m not all a-flutter over it yet, but it has a good cast, good writing, and enough intrigue to keep me coming back for more. And this is pretty much exactly how I felt about Fringe during its first season, so yeah, you can bet I’m going to give it plenty of time to find its crazy legs and become another Bad Robot masterpiece.

Speaking of…

Still watching:

Fringe

Oh, Peter.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that, other than that this is still my favorite US-produced show currently on television.

Doctor Who

… and I’m incredibly frustrated that it’s on hiatus until OCTOBER! Why are they torturing us? Why?

Supernatural

Although, the urgency is gone, and I’m several episodes behind. First Cas, then Bobbie, and I love my boys, but I also loved their family that they had built around them, and now they’re all gone. I can’t say I agree with the decision to keep going another season. But I just can’t quit them, either.

But dang it, I really miss Cas.

Castle

This show is as entertaining as ever, and I loves me some Fillion, but seriously, show: you cannot drag this will they/won’t they schtick out another season. Get them together already, or don’t, and make it stick. Sheesh.

Ringer

I’m still loving watching Buffy and Evil Buffy. And I’m impressed that this show has so much that could make it into pure camp, but it never crosses that line. It’s a good show, as nighttime soaps go, and SMG is as delightful as ever. Also, this rule is proven to still be true: if Buffy cries, I cry.

 

So that’s what I’m watching these days. What shows are you watching?

Unfracking My Delayed Adolescence

So I’ve had a Tumblr blog for a while now, but I’ve finally started using it for real in order to play along with Unf*** Your Habitat, a surprisingly effective motivational Tumblr for getting off your hinder and making your house look like a gorram grownup lives there for a change.

I’ve only been doing this for two days, and already I’ve conquered the hard water deposits in my toilet bowl (earning an animated Cheering!Buffy from UFYH in the process, squee!), cleaned and organized my bathroom shelves, fixed up Matilda’s habitat, made time for novel editing, and made my bed and scooped out the cat boxes two days in a row. You guys, I even flossed my teeth. Dare I say that this project might just succeed in turning me into a grownup? I might be getting ahead of myself there. But if it succeeds in getting my house clean enough to have company over next week, I’ll take it.

If you’re on Tumblr, by all means please follow me, and I’ll follow you right back. And then together we can Unfrack All The Things!

On Too Much Pizza, Light Bulbs, and My Shiny New Blog Theme.

This week is getting away from me. It’s already more than halfway over and I’m just managing to get started. Of course, it’s my own dang fault. After we went to Gingrich’s speech on Monday, we were both tired and feeling a little down about the state of Life, the Universe and Everything, so we ordered pizza for dinner to cheer ourselves up. That led to a pizza, beer & ice cream binge, which led to a night of fitful sleep and insomnia, which led to a Tuesday that turned out to be a sick day as I caught up on sleep and recovered from an unplanned night of gluttony.

Which brings us to today, which was supposed to be a catching up day. But then shortly after I got up this morning Husband asked if we could please go to Target and pick up a handful of non-grocery items that we’ve been needing to get, including, but not limited to, a new floor lamp (necessary thanks to the incandescent bulb ban which means we can no longer buy the extra large three-way bulbs for our antique lamp; yes, they make extra large three-way CFL bulbs, but they all have a standard base, and our lamp has an extra-large socket. So now our beautiful antique lamp is a useless piece of landfill fodder, unless we can find a way to re-wire it. Way to save the planet there, incandescent bulb ban!) and a storage bin that will become a new and less cramped terrarium for Matilda the Turtle.

And of course, after we returned from Target I was rendered about as useless as our old lamp until I’d had a couple of hours to recover from the drain of Going Out Into The World. Which is always what happens whenever we go anywhere for any reason. Yay for introversion!

And tomorrow, Matt wants to spend the day going to Home Depot and stopping by some local businesses that have either crappy or non-existent web sites to say hi and drop off our business card. And then Friday is grocery shopping day. Really, I might as well just give up any plans I had to get anything done online this week that doesn’t involve Netflix or Hulu or staring at Pinterest going “Oooh, pretty!” I certainly haven’t managed to get any editing done.

Anyway, and speaking of getting things done online, before this sudden rush of eagerness to leave the house and interact with people on the part of my beloved, I managed to make some changes to this blog that you might have noticed if you’ve come here to read or comment instead of doing it on Livejournal or in a feed reader. I finally found the time to customize a theme to better coordinate with the rest of my web site, and I think it looks much more professional. I also added a “Shop” section, which is an Amazon store selling both my books and those of all of the indie authors that I’ve featured on this blog. Be sure to check out that section, because as I was adding the books I noticed that some of them are currently free to download. Hooray for free e-books!

In Lieu Of An Actual Blog Post, Here Are My Plans For This Week

It will be at least Tuesday before I have time to sit down and write up some real posts for this week, so in the interest of filling this space with some sort of fresh content, here’s my To Do list for the week:

  • Go see Newt Gingrich. This is happening Monday (it’s probably happening as you read this — either that or I’m in the bathroom getting ready for it. Yay for post scheduling!). Is this a rally? None of the news articles called it a rally, so I don’t think so. At any rate, this will be my first time to go see a presidential candidate and hear what he has to say in person. Should be interesting.
  • Craft a proposal for a potential new client. Oh, the exciting and glamorous life of a freelance web designer.
  •  Gussy up my Facebook timeline, and create an official Author page. I finally have enough people who have friended me there because of my books to justify a page. And then maybe my real life friends and family will stop getting shut out of my news feed and I’ll actually know what’s going on.
  • Write some blog posts, yes.
  • Edit Dominion, which ought to go without saying, but if I say it I’m more likely to do it.
  • Solicit some more guest posts and interviews so I can revive the Indie Author Spotlight feature (drop a comment if you’d like to be featured).
  • Redo Matilda’s habitat.
  • Make some deodorant.
Normally my weekly To Do list is a lot longer than this, but I want to leave room to get started on that client project in case my proposal gets accepted. Either way, I’m sure it will get added to faster than it gets crossed off, which is usually what happens.
What are your plans this week? Any major plans or Must Accomplish items?

My First 8 Months of Indie Publishing: June through January Book Sales

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now. I think being transparent with sales numbers is a big help to other indie authors, and to the self-publishing industry as a whole. So without further ado, here is my sales record since I published my first book back in June.

Unless otherwise indicated, these are for e-book copies of Restless Spirits priced at $2.99. You’ll note a few copies of Fragments & Fancies in there — that one’s priced at 99 cents. Also, although it’s been available in trade paperback since July, I have yet to sell any hard copies of Restless Spirits.

June 2011

  • Amazon – 8 (5 US, 3 UK)
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 4

July 2011

  • Amazon – 3 (All US)
  • Smashwords – 2*
  • B&N – 0

August 2011

  • Amazon – 2 (1 US, 1 UK)
  • Smashwords – 1 (Fragments)
  • B&N – 2 (Fragments)

September 2011

  • Amazon – 3 (1 Restless Spirits US, 1 Fragments US, 1 RS UK)
  • Smashwords -0
  • B&N – 0

October 2011

  • Amazon – 1 (US, Fragments)
  • Smashwords – 23**
  • B&N – 0

November 2011

  • Amazon – 0
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 0

December 2011

  • Amazon – 1 (US)
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 0

January 2012

  • Amazon – 2 (US)
  • Smashwords – 0
  • B&N – 1 (Fragments)

* It was on sale for 50% off

** I publicized a coupon to get it for free during the month of October

Total Sales (not counting the October giveaway copies): 30

Average monthly sales: 3.75

 

Clearly, Amazon.com is my biggest market over all, although Barnes & Noble has done better for Fragments. I wonder if that means anything about Nook users having more of a penchant for short story collections. Smashwords hasn’t really been great for sales, but they are really great for generating buzz through sales and giveaways since they make coupon generation so easy.

November was my only month with a total goose egg — that probably has something to do with the fact that I was too busy doing NaNoWriMo to do any active promotion. December sales were also pretty dismal despite my participation in a holiday Kindle giveaway that was meant to draw a lot of attention to me and Restless Spirits for Christmas. Although it did net me a lot of new Twitter and Facebook followers, so that’s something. But if January is any indication, then things are starting to pick back up.

I know those numbers are lacking in the “Wow!” department, but honestly, a steady rate of 3-4 books a month is better than I expected, considering that I’m only offering one novel and what amounts to a chapbook.  It will be interesting to see if and by how much things pick up after I release Dominion. I’m planning to do quite a bit of pre-promotion in the run up to its release, which I didn’t do at all for either of my first two books. I’ve already got a little buzz going for it, thanks to including the first two chapters with the free copies of Restless Spirits that I gave away in October.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with these numbers.

More Sustainable Hygiene: DIY Deodorant

DIY Deodorant

Image credit: cheaplikemeblog.com

In my recent post on Frugal & Sustainable Beauty and Hygiene, I mentioned that I was on the lookout for a good alternative to store-bought deodorant. Shortly after that post went up, my new best friend Pinterest showed me a recipe for DIY deodorant made from coconut oil, arrow root and baking soda.  Sounds great! Except, arrow root is enough of a specialty item around here that I’d have to make a special trip to the health food store to get it, and it would also mean spending extra money on something that I wasn’t sure I’d use for anything else.

In Which I Defend Romance And Gush My Little ‘Shippy Heart Out

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. For the occasion I wrote a guest post for my friend and fellow Nano-ite, Rebekah Loper. Here’s an excerpt:

I don’t write romance novels. But the stories I write usually contain plenty of romance. My writing feels empty and lifeless without that romantic element. I find that, as both a writer and a reader, and for that matter, as a member of the viewing audience, it’s usually not the MacGuffin driving the plot that I’m invested in, or the hero’s destination, but it’s the relationships between the characters; whether it’s the beauty of a deep friendship that tests the bonds of brotherhood and loyalty, a la Sam and Frodo, or the tension between sworn enemies like Batman and the Joker, or romantic tension that blossoms into full-fledged love between two characters who obviously belong together, I can never seem to get enough.

I guess you could say that I was a born ‘shipper. ‘Shipper, in case you don’t know, is short for “relationshipper,” someone who roots for certain characters in a story to get together and stay together. The first couple I remember ‘shipping with a passion was Han and Leia… or maybe it was Superman and Lois Lane.

You can read the rest at Rebekah’s blog. And if you haven’t read Restless Spirits yet, you can also enter to win a free Kindle copy. Go! Read! Enter! Yay!

Survival Crafts: DIY Pet Harness

Welcome to one of my most popular posts, a holdover from my brief attempt at becoming a craft blogger. I know you’re here to learn how to crochet your own pet harness, but if you’re a fan of quirky paranormal romance, contemporary fantasy or horror fiction, have a look around! You can check out my books, learn more about my world on my blog (spoiler: not a craft blog) and, if you like what you see, you can subscribe to my newsletter for even more free, fun content. Thanks for reading. On to the harness!

Recently when putting together a bug-out bag for my pets (more on that in a later post), I realized that I needed harnesses for each of my three cats. We have carriers for each of them, but once we get to our bug-out location we don’t want to keep them crated the whole time, and we don’t know how safe it will be to let them run around unsupervised. But faced with no money to go out and buy three harness and leash combos, I turned instead to my massive yarn stash, and to the Internet, where I was sure I’d find instructions on how to make some harnesses.

The Internet didn’t fail me. A simple Google search turned up this simple crochet pattern for a leash and harness combo. Since I sometimes make jewelry, I already had the jump rings on hand for joining the two, so all I needed was the time to whip up three of these babies. I got them done over the course of three evenings of watching Cheers reruns on Netflix with my husband.

I modified the pattern a bit by following one of the suggestions in the pattern’s comments to add a front strap connecting the two loops to keep the neck loop from riding up and add a degree of difficulty when it comes to escape. I can’t exactly say that the finished product is a hit with the kitties; when I tried them on, they each reacted by either just lying down and giving up on life altogether or by trying their darnedest to back out of the thing. But they didn’t get out of it, and the fit seemed to be comfortable enough. When the weather warms up we’ll start having practice outings to try to get the poor dears used to being leash-walked.

By the way, if you’d like to learn how to knit and/or crochet — both handy skills to have in a post-grid situation — head over to The Survival Mom’s web site, where she has a list of links to online lessons on yarn craft.

Editing Bonanza!

…is not quite what this week turned out to be, although I did make good headway by finishing the first act and getting started on the second. It turned out that I had to devote a big chunk of my week to clearing a big pile of storm debris out of my side yard. I had planned to take care of it once the weather warmed up, but the city said “Nope! Do it now or pay a fine.”

So… maybe next week. No, what am i saying? I don’t mean maybe. I mean Yes! Definitely! Next week I will edit every day! And I will get this book done! Soon! -ish.

-ish because I’ll still have one more pass to do after this one, and that after the beta readers have gotten ahold of it. Which reminds me… I’m going to need some beta readers, so feel free to drop a comment and let me know if you’re interested. But on this, the first pass, I’m mainly focusing on story problems, patching up continuity holes and making sure everything makes sense and is paced well. On the next pass I’ll focus more on the words and spiffying up the writing, and I’ll format it for publication as I go.

As for story problems, I haven’t noticed anything significant yet, but I know it’s not completely issue-free, so it’s just a matter of time. I do, however, think that I’ll only have to do minimal re-writing of the problematic scenes, so that’s encouraging.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that for now, because really, I’m just blathering, because my body is achey and tired from clearing away all those limbs, and my brain is almost as tired from cramming in as much work as possible in between yard work sessions. I, dear readers, am ready to crash. TGIF, indeed.

No More Excuses

Time to WriteIt’s time, y’all. As mentioned in my last post, the web site project that was eating my time and patience is done, and the big web site support client I signed last November let their contract expire. That means I’ve got some breathing room, and hence, no more excuses.

And so I hereby proclaim for all to see that, starting Monday (because I’ve already got a jam-packed weekend so it really won’t do to start then… okay, maybe I haven’t really run out of excuses yet. SHUT UP!), I’m going back to the daily routine that I kept for most of last year: devoting the first two hours of my day (after my morning devotional and breakfast, that is) to writing, editing and publishing tasks. NO EXCEPTIONS. And no Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or e-mail or even turning on my phone until my writing time is done.

This routine worked quite well for getting DOMINION written, so it ought to do for getting it edited and published, too. And when I was doing this I still managed to get other work done.

Actually, if I’m being totally honest with myself, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been spending those two hours messing about online instead of doing anything truly productive, anyway. So it’s time to nip that in the bud and start opening Scrivener instead of Facebook when I sit down with my morning coffee.

I expect you to hold me to this, people. If you see me on a social network before at least 1:30 PM Central (and yes, if you do the math you’ll realize that means I generally sleep in until about 9:30 or 10:00. Don’t judge me. That’s one of the perks of being a freelancer), please don’t hesitate to scold me and shame me into logging off and getting to work. Doing whatever the virtual equivalent is of your impression of Donald Sutherland at the end of Body Snatchers ought to do the trick.

Get to work Jean!

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